Chris Kingsbury is National Partnerships Manager for the ‘Access to Work Mental Health Support Service’ at Remploy. It’s a free, confidential service for any employees or apprentices experiencing mental health difficulties at work.
When you start an apprenticeship, Chris says you may be feeling overwhelmed or thinking any of these things:
- How am I going to fit into the environment?
- How am I going to adjust to this new routine?
- Am I going to be able to do the job?
- Am I going to be able to get on with people?
You might feel worried, have low mood, or there may be things that are going on in your personal life that are affecting your mental wellbeing, and in turn your performance, at work.
If you have a pre-diagnosed mental health condition, Chris says to make your employer and training provider aware when you first get your apprenticeship:
It ensures they’re aware you may require some additional support. They wouldn’t want to see an apprentice struggle. You need the right support in place to ensure you’re successful.
Chris says it’s also important to ask before an interview if you need adjustments to be able to perform in that interview. Employers want to support you through a job role or apprenticeship and see you thrive.
Companies also have a legal responsibility to not discriminate against an employee (or candidate) with a mental health illness that classifies as a disability. And they have a moral responsibility to provide the tangible resources required to support people with their mental wellbeing.
- Acknowledge you have a mental health concern (you can’t help yourself until you recognise you’re experiencing difficulties).
- Inform someone and take steps to get help.
- Try and lead a healthy lifestyle: eat healthily, get good-quality sleep, exercise regularly, speak to people, have a network of contacts so you’re not alone.
- Seek help immediately if you’re at risk of harming yourself or others.
- If you’re struggling at work or in your apprenticeship, you can speak to your line manager or your tutor/assessor. They’ll listen to you and signpost you to relevant support. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them, you can look on your company website or intranet for a list of contacts and resources to help you. You’re not alone – there is help available, whatever the issue.
- Many workplaces also now ask staff to train as Mental Health First Aiders. That’s a person you can talk to at work if you’re struggling with your mental health. They’re also often advocates of mental health in the workplace and encourage positive conversations and attitudes towards mental health at work.
- If you’d prefer not to involve your employer, Remploy’s service is completely confidential. You’ll be assigned a consultant, and they will provide you with strategies to cope with whatever’s bothering you, whether it’s anxiety, stress management, organisation and planning, managing a health condition or many other work-related mental health challenges.
- It’s definitely worth speaking out if you’re experiencing any difficulties – there are so many people and resources designed to help you, and it’ll make your experience in the workplace much more rewarding.